Academic journal article Geography

Plate Tectonics: A Very Short Introduction

Academic journal article Geography

Plate Tectonics: A Very Short Introduction

Article excerpt

Plate Tectonics: A very short introduction Peter Molnar Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015 136pp, 11x17cm, Pb: ?7.99, ISBN 978-0-19-872826-9

This excellent guide to the plate tectonics revolution joins the superb 'Very Short Introduction' series. It is in part a story of breathless discoveries by ambitious young scientists: an undergraduate 'took the equations home for the weekend and returned with the solution on Monday', while a geologist 'dropped what he was doing and applied the idea to the whole Earth'.

The compelling simplicity of plate tectonics is one of the book's key themes. Vast extrapolations joined the dots of isolated fieldwork and ocean soundings, often with amazing accuracy. Deep-sea drilling demonstrated the remorseless creation of new sea floor, and seismic waves mapped the descending slabs beneath island arcs and mountain chains.

The book is peppered with engaging images: the Alps, 'built from thin stacked slices of Eurasia's southern edge'; the Andes, 'folded like a rug too thick to fit under a door'. …

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